Free and Open Source Software policy adoption in Africa Governments: Status

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Every ICT practitioner nightmare in government is the legal team.  Usually very general law education and little ICT specific law training and knowledge.  I always cross my fingers when I push the ICT contract to the legal team that I don’t get questions on any technical term and asked to give the legal implication or some legal-esque probes.  Meanwhile I am looking at the deliverable deadlines at the corner of the eye to deliver this project ‘on time’.

I came across an article that the US government spends 16 billion USD on software licenses and maintenance.  The government in August approved a new federal software policy with the aim to adopting use of open source software and open standards to reduce this bill.  But even more encouraging, use of open source software will encourage innovation in the public sector.  An interesting part is the policy mandates all agencies to release 20% of its custom software code into the code.gov website for free access to the public.

In 2007, South Africa was the first country in Africa to adopt use of FOSS in the government.  Brazil was the first country in the world to adopt use of FOSS.  China adopted FOSS in 2007 and is actively promoting LINUX. Nigeria so far seemed to look into adopting the use of FOSS, but I almost LOLed at the article that said that ‘the effort was hampered by a generous Microsoft for software’.

Uganda holds an annual FOSS Conference supported by the National IT Authority and this year held the 7th edition.  The Minister of ICT of Uganda Frank Tumwebaze showed that the Ugandan government spends 40 Million USD annually on software licenses from proprietary companies.  The officials say they are soon approving a FOSS policy for the government.

A really interesting project is the Nigeria Mirror Project hosts FOSS in local servers to enable easier access by local programming community.

Bulgaria government passed a FOSS policy and will create a new government agency to enforce the law and set up the public repository. A public registry will track all software projects from inspection to technical specs deliverables and subsequent control.

European Union, France, India, United Kingdom have all moved to adopting FOSS in government software development.

According to the map below (Source: fossbytes.com) only 4 countries have open source policy encourage not mandated: South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Benin.  Only 1 country Ghana has an open source law proposed but not enacted. Perhaps the fact that E-government has not really taken off and hence have not met with the software license and maintenance bills of more developed countries is partly why FOSS in government is not an issue yet.  Obviously this presents a big lessons learned for the governments to adopt FOSS policies now rather that when faced with a huge software maintenance bill.

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The big ICT advocacy bodies International Telecommunication Union, World Bank and United Nations are a bit silent on FOSS policies for African governments.

The rhetorical question is therefore, should we wait for the 5o or so African governments go through the costly lessons learned cycle in avoiding proprietary software?

The best interventions is when national ICT polices are being formulated where FOSS policy is mainstreamed into the ICT Policy.  However the (very keen) presence of vendors in the ICT policy consultations (especially with behind the scenes lobbying) makes FOSS policy adoption chances quite slim in Africa.

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Partnering to protect children and youth online

Africa this is a priority!

Tim Unwin's Blog

I am so delighted to have been asked by the ITU and Child Helpline International to moderate their important session on “Partnering to protect children and youth” at the ITU’s Telecom World gathering in Bangkok on 15th November.  The abuse of children online is without question one of the darkest aspects of the use of ICTs, and it is great to see the work that so many child helplines are doing globally to counter and respond to this.

The main objective of the session is to highlight the work done by a range of ICT stakeholders to initiate and support child helplines in various parts of the world.  The session will begin with introductory remarks from Houlin Zhao (the Secretary General of the ITU) and Professor Jaap Doek (Chair of the Board of Child Helpline international).  This will be followed by a short video entitled No child should be left…

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Of Africa Internet Exchange Points

Rwanda yesterday 10th October 2016 launched its Rwanda Internet Exchange Point and is quickly targeting to make it a regional internet exchange point.  The project was financed by the African Union Commission’s Infrastructure and Energy Department through its project African Internet Exchange System or AXIS. The project cost 180,000 USD and funded by AU Commission.  It becomes one of eight regional internet exchange points and 32 national internet exchange points funded by the commission. (Link to Rwanda NewTimes Article http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2016-11-09/205193/).   On 23rd June this year, AU commission also launched the Kenya Internet Exchange point in Mombasa which also is to be a regional exchange point.  As H.E. Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy puts it “In the context of celebrating 50 years, the AU Heads of State and Government agreed to develop a Continental Agenda 2063. The overall objective of Agenda 2063 is to chart Africa’s development trajectory over the next 50 years. One of the envisaged activities is putting in place an intra-African broad band terrestrial infrastructure”.  The Network Resource Center by University of Oregon has a nice link of the IXP with website addresses. https://nsrc.org/ixp/Africa.html

The Africa Union also has quite well updated and comprehensive link of the project here.. http://pages.au.int/axis.  The project has a best practices workshop where stakeholders come together to share ideas and best practices, as well as technical workshops, both excellent approaches in such a continent wide project as this.

Now onto the nitty gritty.

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  1. Enabling Environment namely

a.Policy and Regulation.

b.Technology and infrastructure: Accesibility of host facility to participant networks, reliability of key utilities and availability of modern equipments are key.

c. People and community: IXPs run well if there is a sense of community amongst the participants and efforts must be made to create a community of trust. Capacity building of technical persons is equally key to this.

Others details include

  1. Choosing a governance and business model usually falling in the four categories: Nonprofit industry associations of ISPs, Operator-neutral commercial and for-profit companies, University and government agencies  and Informal associations of networks.

University of Oregon Internet Resource center has a nice and website linked of Africa IXPs.

Country Name Internet Link
Angola-IXP / ANG-IX Angola Internet Exchange point http://www.angola-ixp.ao/

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angonix Angola Internet Exchange Point http://angonix.net/

 

BurundiX Burundi Internet Exchange Point http://www.burundix.bi/
BENIN-IX BENIN-IX http://www.benin-ix.org.bj/
RDC-IX Kinshasa Kinix http://www.ispa-drc.cd/kinix.htm
CGIX Congo Internet eXchange http://www.cgix-congo.cg/

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Congo Internet eXchange Congo Internet eXchange http://www.cgix-congo.cg/
CIVIX Cote d’Ivoire Internet Exchange Point http://www.civix.ci/
CAMIX Cameroon Internet Exchange Point
DjIX The Djibouti Internet Exchange http://www.djiboutidatacenter.com/
GIXA Ghana Internet Exchange Association http://www.gixa.org.gh/
SIXP GAMBIA SEREKUNDA INTERNET EXCHANGE POINT http://www.sixp.gm/

https://www.peeringdb.com/private/exchange_view.php?id=1074

KIXP Kenya Internet Exchange Point
LIXP Lesotho Internet Exchange http://www.lca.org.ls/
MIX-BT Malawi Internet Exchange http://www.mispa.org.mw/

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MOZIX Mozambique Internet Exchange http://www.mozix.org.mz

 

WHK-IX Windhoek Internet Exchange Point http://wiki.ixp.org.na/
IXPN Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria http://ixp.net.ng/
IXPN Lagos Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria http://www.nixp.net/

 

REUNIX REUNIX http://www.renater.fr/spip.php?rubrique280
RINEX Rwanda Internet Exchange http://www.rinex.org.rw

 

Somcable S.A.S Somcable http://www.somcable.com/

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SISPA Swaziland Peering Point https://www.peeringdb.com/private/exchange_view.php?id=262
TunIXP Tunisia Internet Exchange Point https://www.peeringdb.com/private/exchange_view.php?id=1105
AIXP Arusha Internet eXchange Point http://www.aixp.or.tz/
TIX – Tanzania Tanzania Internet eXchange http://tix.or.tz/

 

UIXP Uganda Internet Exchange Point http://www.uixp.co.ug/
CINX Cape Town Internet Exchange http://www.ispa.org.za/inx/
Cool Ideas Cool Ideas Service Provider http://www.cisp.co.za/
DINX Durban Internet Exchange http://www.ispa.org.za/
JINX Johannesburg Internet Exchange http://www.ispa.org.za/inx/
NAPAfrica IX Cape Town NAPAfrica IX Cape Town http://www.teraco.co.za/
NAPAfrica IX Durban NAPAfrica IX Durban http://www.napafrica.net/napafrica-traffic/durban-internet-exchange/
NAPAfrica IX Johannesburg NAPAfrica IX Johannesburg http://www.teraco.co.za/
LuIXP Lusaka Internet Exchange Point http://www.ispa.org.zm/

map africa internet exchange points.PNG

 

So what does this mean to the ordinary African?

THREE words: Faster, Cheaper, RICHER Content>Hopefully the IXPs will plug part of the puzzle needed to fix the F-C-C huge need for the growing number of Africans plugging into the internet. and… well and not exactly what we have in mind.

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